Business owner wants traffic control near new parkway

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) While the new Westside Parkway is supposed to relieve traffic problems, some nearby businesses complain it's making things worse for them.

At least one business owner has ideas to improve access along Truxtun Avenue, though city officials say it's too soon to know just how traffic there will be impacted.

A number of businesses and medical offices are clustered south of Truxtun, west of the railroad tracks. An access road went into the area from Truxtun for a number of years, but that's been closed off by the parkway project. Near that former access road, Darlyn Baker has her business, Interim HealthCare.

With the access road gone, and lots of traffic on Truxtun, Baker said she worries about getting customers and workers in and out of the businesses. She also worries about large areas of dirt left by the project, she said.

"Being a nurse, I'm very concerned about valley fever," Baker told Eyewitness News on Monday. "Spores that are airborne."

It's a disease that can cause serious problems. Eyewitness News took her concerns to Bakersfield officials.

"Right now (the dirt area) is supposed to be getting a spray with like a native-type grass," Public Works director Raul Rojas said. "If that doesn't work, we'll look at other things we could do, whether it's wood chips or something else to make sure the dust doesn't blow."

When it comes to traffic impacts, Baker has issues with several locations. She also has several suggestions.

First, at Office Park Drive, the business owner wants a traffic signal to allow drivers to turn left on Truxtun.

Rojas said because of other signals nearby, adding one at Office Park won't work.

"It would be too close to either of those other signals to make the coordination work and make the traffic flow very well," he explained.

He agreed there are traffic problems, but Rojas said he hopes traffic patterns will change and bring improvements.

"We recognize we need to fix it, but we don't know entirely what the fix is yet until we see the change in the traffic patterns and see how it's going to work," he said.

Baker said another problem spot is Commercial Way and Commerce Way. That's a bit south of Truxtun near the AAA Auto Club building. That's where Baker would like to see a stop sign to let northbound traffic get in. Right now, it backs up for drivers waiting to get onto Truxtun.

"We know we have an issue that we have a lot of left-turn movement out there on Commercial Way, that are trying to go westbound onto Truxtun," Rojas said.

As for changing the stop sign?

"We would have to do a traffic study to make sure that the area would warrant a three-way stop," he said. "That's something that we can do."

But, he argues it's too soon to know what's really needed. City traffic engineers want to see how the Parkway changes traffic use on Truxtun.

"When it opens there will probably be less traffic on Truxtun itself," Rojas said. "It will allow us some more 'green time' to allow, to get, to clear out that Commercial Way and Commerce Way, to get more traffic on to Truxtun sooner."

The Westside Parkway has been planned for years, with the aim of relieving traffic jams in other areas like Rosedale Highway and Truxtun. The new freeway runs from Truxtun five miles out to Allen Road. With three lanes in each direction, and interchanges at Mohawk Street, Coffee Road, Calloway Drive and Allen.

The Parkway opens to the public on Friday, Aug. 2.

Baker said she is still worried about getting in and out of their business area, especially if there's an emergency. Rojas told Eyewitness News there is adequate access.

But, he's open to making changes to improve traffic flow, once they know more about the ripple effects when the parkway is in use.

"Everything's on the table," he said. "If there's an issue that we have to do in order to make it better, then we're going to look at those, too."